Article by Ian Cheow. Originally Posted here.
For beginning web designers, this is a common question. Many still think of search engine optimization (SEO) and web design as two exclusive issues. They don’t see them as two separate jobs, rather than one being a part of the other. The reality is, every web designer needs to know at least the very basics of SEO before they design a website today.
What is SEO?
SEO is the art of communicating with the search engines. Websites that want real people to actually find their website and visit need to work with the search engines, since those engines are used by millions of people every single day to find websites of value. If the top search engines like Google and Yahoo do not see value in a website, then it is doomed. No exaggeration.
So, you need to communicate with the search engines if you want your website to do well. How do you do that? You do it through SEO strategies like picking the right keywords and having them woven into your website and designing every element of the site to say something about your content.
You can’t just pick up the phone and tell Google all about your great new website. The website has to do the talking on its own behalf. That’s why SEO is so crucial today.
What Does SEO Have to Do with Web Design?
SEO has a lot to do with web design because some of the most important elements of speaking to the search engines involve basic design elements. For instance, did you know that you need your primary keyword in the URL of your site? You do! This means some SEO needs to take place before you even have the web designer register your domain name.
SEO starts before the design process in most cases, and there’s a reason for that!
A designer needs to know a lot more than how you want your website to look. They need a good idea of what this site needs to do in a functional capacity. They need to know what keywords you are trying to rank highly on with the search engines. They can then use the right words for your URL and in other elements of the design.
Finding a Web Designer Who Knows SEO
Basic web design doesn’t incorporate a ton of SEO, but you can find web design services that are also pros on SEO. This is the best type of service to use because they can be hired to design the site with SEO in mind. This sets your site up for success with the search engines right from its birth.
You may pay more for these services, especially if you are hiring them for extensive optimization involving your content as well as elements of design. It is well worth it in the end!
At the very least, learn about SEO and do some keyword research before you even hand your website project off to the designer. Make sure you know what your primary keywords are going to be and then make sure your chosen URL name reflects at least one major keyword for your site.
Of course, that URL name should have something of interest in there for the humans as well, since they are the ones choosing to click or not from the search results pages.